I went to see Sharon (Bell) yesterday, and we went over the muslins. The coat muslin I am going to entirely redo, but the dress foundation is very nearly perfect. So I am going to redo it, this time without the boning, and next time we are going to use it to drape the dress pattern. But the “redo” will likely be the one I actually use in the dress!
We also talked about the construction and the fabrics for the garment, and I learned a LOT. For example, I had wondered why, if you do a muslin and “perfect the fit”, you still have to fit the garment in the fashion fabric. Turns out (duh!) it’s because fabrics respond and drape differently, no matter how similar you try to choose the fabric for fitting, so the “perfect pattern” is different for every fabric. Of course! I don’t know why that hadn’t occurred to me, but it makes total sense now.
We also discussed the layering of the fabric. Rather than construct a separate lining, Sharon suggested using the foundation as the lining as well. To prevent the boning from showing on the outside, she doesn’t just use a layer of thin silk (as most patterns have you do) – she puts in a layer of flannel to “pad” the fabric and smooth out the lines. Again, obvious (and perfectly logical) in retrospect, but that hadn’t occurred to me either.
Hemming the dress: she recommended using some organza in the hem, to give it just a bit of body and to flare the skirt ever-so-slightly. She said, “The more couture the garment, the less flat the hem is.” She also showed me several seam finishes – Hong Kong finish, the stitch-and-pink finish (stitch a straight line and then pink the edges to “blur” the edge so it won’t be visible from the outside), and the Seams Great finishing method – that I could use to finish the seam allowances.
Zippers: We had been planning to put the zipper in a side seam, but that would create problems with the foundation, which fastens differently. So we agreed to put the zipper in the back. She recommended strongly against using a “railroad zipper” (the conventional zipper method), but recommended a “lapped zipper” (like blue jeans zippers) instead so we could guarantee that the zipper wouldn’t show. We might decorate the back of the zipper with a set of faux buttons, haven’t decided yet. (I don’t want to have loads of “real” buttons on the back, as that would make it impossible for me to get in and out of the dress by myself – which, if I’m trying it on constantly as it’s being constructed, would be a real PITA.)
She also showed me how to set in a sleeve without using the common “pull up the basting threads” method. You run the fabric through the sewing machine and hold your thumb against the back of the presser foot, so the fabric piles up against the presser foot. This crimps the fabric and you can then (very carefully, so the crimps don’t come out) match it to the other piece and sew. I think this will take some practice, but fortunately, I have more muslins to work on!
I think this is going to work out great. For our next meeting, I plan to redo the coat muslin and the foundation, which means doing some pattern alteration, too. Since I’m at the point of threading up the loom, the plan is to work on the coat muslins in the mornings while Mike is still asleep (the noise from running the loom to “treadle the threading” would wake him up, so I can’t thread in the mornings), and thread in the evenings. Using this approach I think I can get the samples and the muslins completed by the time the Great Chocolate Extravaganza rolls around, which leaves me the first couple weeks in December to weave the fabric. It will be very tight indeed, but I think I can have the fabric and dress completed by mid-February. I may have to ask Sharon to help me with the sewing, though – we’ll see.
I also managed to make it to Santa Cruz to see the Highlands House and Park. I’m only so-so on it, so I think I’m going to try seeing the next few places on my list to view before making a final decision. More running around! but I think I’ll somehow be able to get everything done. I hope!